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Tuesday Talk: What’s the cost of a shutdown?

June 28, 2011 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Every part of Minnesota will be touched by a government shutdown. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Governor Dayton is proposing a balanced solution that preserves commitments to what’s made Minnesota prosper. Conservatives want to cut those investments to protect the richest two percent of Minnesotans. 

What’s the cost of a shutdown to Minnesota?  How is the short-term impact worth preserving the state’s long-term commitment to prosperity?  

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • Mike says:

    June 28, 2011 at 8:15 am

    With the government shut down just about to happen in Minnesota, I believe that it is appropriate to point out who is responsible for this shut down. It is the legislature’s responsibility to send a balanced budget to the governor for what?—His signature. As the situation now stands, the only one who has not done his job is Governor Dayton. The balanced budget that the legislature sent to the governor is meaningless without what?—the governor’s signature. If you rely on the state and don’t what the shut down to happen, then I would encourage the governor to sign the responsible budget that the Republican Party sent to the governors desk.

    I am aware that the governor is saying that there is just not enough spending in this budget, but $34 billion is more than $30 billion the last time I checked and the Republicans did compromise in moving up 2 billion from where they said the budget was going to be. The Republicans campaigned in 2010 on a $32 billion budget but raised spending when they found 2 billion in additional revenue.

    It is time we as Minnesotans say enough! Our country is $14.7 trillion in the hole with $121 trillion in unfunded obligations (pensions and social security) and Minnesota has a budget on the governor’s desk of $34 billion with almost $65 billion in unfunded obligations (pensions). It has gotten to a point where the numbers are so staggering that we don’t even understand them anymore.

    It is time we start running our government like we are running our households—essentials only and save as much as possible.

    Join me in saying “Enough already”.

  • terry says:

    June 28, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Dayton is the only human being in
    politics in MN!  He thinks with
    not only his head but his heart
    and speaks for all of us.

  • John Crampton says:

    June 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    The legislature has clearly shown that they only care about preserving the tax cuts the richest 2% got back in 1999 that allow them to pay a lower rate of tax than the rest of us. 

    Basically, all Dayton is asking for is that the richest 2% start paying their fair share.  To stop his fair demand, the Republicans are willing to shut down the state…. education, health care, transportation, public safety, state parks, basic life-saving care to the disabled—-  all in order to take care of the richest 2% who bought these Republican legislators in the 2010 election.


  • cathy says:

    June 28, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Mike, you need to check your facts. You have been talking to too many rubublicans. Why have a Governor if all he did was sign bills in to law without questioning them? After years of Bush and Pawlenty tax cuts we now have to deal with the results, HUGE deficits. We have the lowest taxes in our history. Rubublicans have succussfully starved off the wonderful programs that have made Minnesota and our nation great. Now they are blaming the programs for being underfunded (Social Secutity, Medicare, Medicaid, Minnesota Care.) Allen Greenspan was on the evening news and on Meet the Press. He said that if we did not return to the tax levels of the Clinton years, this country may never recover. Republicans need to quit listening to the Koch Brothers and start listening to the people.

  • myles spicer says:

    June 28, 2011 at 9:07 am

    What bothers me most is that when all the ramifications, fallout, and effects are considered, it will be the poorest, least able to afford, and most vulnerable who will feel this shutdown.

  • Mike says:

    June 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Mike does not need to check anything. At a 17% increase in spending as the governor would like to see. Our budget doubles every 10 years. By 2025 our state budget will be over 100 billion dollars. Do you really believe that that is sustainable?

    We need to pull in our spending and be more responsible in our programs.

    47% of Minnesotans pay nothing in state income taxes. Maybe it is time we stop going after those who do pay taxes and start requiring those that are not to step up to the plate and Cathy, it was Greenspan who brought us to this point with cheap money and of course we need to thank Senator Dodd for destroying the housing market by requiring banks to borrow money to those who cannot afford it.

    What ever happened to personal responsibility in this country?

  • mike says:

    June 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The rich are paying a smaller percentage than the rest of us.  That is not fair.  They may be rich but they are not “special”.  The Republicans would rather balance the budget on the backs of the poor, disabled, elderly and middle class rather than see the rich pay their fair share.

  • cathy says:

    June 28, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Unfortunately, that 47% you speak about, Mike, includes the elderly who are retired and on fixed incomes. Balancing the budget on their backs is what our Governor wants to stop. It is time to close the loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. They are the ones not paying their taxes.

  • Susan Rengstorf says:

    June 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

    After all else has been said, we elected Mark Dayton governor because we believed he knew best and would do the right thing. Let the House or Senate member who received more votes than Mark Dayton say they know better. They should go with the Governor’s proposal and GET IT DONE!

  • Julie says:

    June 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Don’t the state park campgrounds make money in the summer?  And if they close down won’t this end up costing the state more money? It is really sad that one political group is really worried about the people that make over $250,000 a year. I think that these people will get by just fine. Replacing income taxes with property tax increases was a real poor idea set forth by the previous governor.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    June 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Governor Dayton is standing firm against those who would impose the Capitalism-is-God philosophy of Ayn Rand, who also believed that the weak should just be considerate and die off so they would not impede “progress.”  Rand and Milton Friedman are both dead—and so is any justification for using political power to harm those least able to protect themselves or provide for themselves.

    We are seeing the results in Michigan and Wisconsin and Indiana, among other states, and in Cameron’s England.  The actions of these right-wing leaders are completely procyclical (sp?). Cutting spending exaggerates a recession while spending helps the economy recover. And to make that recovery possible, we need revenue. 

    Stay strong, governor.

  • B says:

    June 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Mike - ever hear of inflation? 2025 dollars will not be the same as today’s money.

    Also, the government didn’t require banks to lend money to anyone. They encouraged it, but didn’t require it. They can’t do that. Plus, talk about personal responsibility - the banks should take some ownership of this problem. Why lend to someone that you know can’t repay the loan? (Nit-picky note: in your last sentence the correct grammar would be “banks to lend money,” not “banks to borrow money.” To lend is to give to someone else. To borrow is to accept something from someone else.)

    You are right about Greenspan though. Much of this is his partly his fault, since he held a position of great influence and strongly encouraged the deregulation of financial markets.

  • KJC says:

    June 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    This is a highly charged topic, and one with very real consequences.  And for far more people than currently realize? As trouble looms, so often I find that people think, somehow, that it “won’t be them” in the crossfire.  Until it is. 
    How do you get out of that myopia?  I tend to try and look at things from a big picture view.  (My Meyers-Briggs says?  ENTJ: the “Field Marshall.”)
    Most problems aren’t solved long-term by merely “reacting.”  That tends to result in just more of the same that got you where you are.  Understanding how we got into a problem can keep us from making the same mistake(s.)  And, in my experience, all real progress rests on being honest about ALL of these things.
    Regardless of what anyone might try to say, there is no “fly off the handle” talk in my post.  This is a very serious issue and it deserves exactly that approach, not more tired-old rhetoric repetition.
    So, how did we get here?
    I put on my CEO hat, and I reviewed the last budget.  Yikes.  There are several aspects to it that I found troubling, ones that don’t exactly live-up to great accounting principles.
    I find that the legislature passed a budget and that our governor signed it.  And then?  He “unallotted” some of the money.  How did that work, then?  He substituted some one-time federal stimulus dollars, and tobacco settlement money, etc. to fill the gap he had created.  Plus there were shifts in required payouts (“LGA”) to get them into the later budget periods.  (Enron would have been proud of this kind of accounting.)  I must also note that there seemed to be little outcry from the public to insist on having a straight conversation about all this.  We all, collectively, “kicked the can” down the road.  And hoped it would work out.  Here we are. (I’ll give anybody a “free pass” if they show that they took a public position against all this accounting-slight-of-hand.)
    So… the stage was set back then, with the budget having been “balanced” with a variety of unsustainable gimmicks, about $2 billion dollars worth (!,) by our governor. Over the objections of the legislature, I must add.  Those are just the facts, from the perspective of an executive looking-at-the-books and checking for the basics.   
    So now there is a basic question when it comes to the discussion of the next budget.  What is the budget baseline?  In your numbers, are you using what we actually spent?  Or what we spent, minus the one-time federal dollars, the tobacco settlement money, etc. etc. that covered-up that unallotment?  Remember there’s about a $2 billion dollar difference, when I review the numbers.
    So when one Political Party says “we’re allowing 6% over the old budget,” which baseline are they using?  This is crucial to know, but they don’t openly disclose.  And, after doing much research, it appears that they’ve picked the baseline that’s $2 billion dollars lower, one that doesn’t represent the actual total budget expenditure.
    Certainly you must agree, at the very least, that this most basic of facts should be disclosed?  But, instead we get a lot of bluster and a blizzard of other numbers hoping we, as citizens, will give up trying to genuinely understand it and fallback into the comfort of ideological positions?
    You say disclosure of such a material fact isn’t important?  Try that at your next IRS audit.  Let us all know how it turns out. 
    Yes, this fundamental difference in the baselines being used by the two “sides,” both of whom work for us I might add, doesn’t seem to have gotten into the necessary public discussion much.  Has it?  I had to dig really hard to find all this, none of the current “headline” stories, or press releases, had this in it.  It was much more about “who is dominating who” and other “opinion” stuff.  Like this is merely some kind of game, or what? Why bring a wall of rhetoric and bluster, and a whole blizzard of numbers, omitting the most basic accounting fact of all?  Obviously some are hoping that “divert attention tactics” will work in their favor as the deadline looms?  Will it?
    Whether we’re completely aware of it or not, the future of our great state, and the quality of life of all Minnesotan’s hangs in the balance… as each of us answers that question.  In the “We The People” republic it will always come down to?  Us, of course.
    Please choose your own answer wisely, and then contact your legislators, etc.  Thanks.     
    (P.S. I already have.)

  • Ed Rapp says:

    June 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    It’s time to stop arguing with a brick wall containing Karl Rove “facts” and start making political capital out of the mess we are in.  (Ask any Norwegian what “rove” means in his native tongue, but don’t ask it in mixed company.  You will get the most accurate definition in history.)  We suffer politically because a majority out there believes that this is a fight between no new taxes on the part of the Republicans and tax hikes on the part of Democrats. If the people knew that the top 1% of the households in this state pay an effective rate of 9.7% while the entire middle class (or what’s left of them) pay more than 12%, they will see that this is not a “soak the rich” move, but rather an equal sacrifice for all.  Income taxes do not represent the entire tax load; the more regressive taxes such as real estate, sales and even fees go up on the revenue teeter-totter when income taxes go down.  And someone besides this pension survivor of eighteen years has to recognize that this is all a present from George W. Bush.  No one one—including Republicans, the media, Democrats, 20/20—ever mentions the word PIGGYBACK, the method Minnesota uses to determie our own tax rates.  As my favorite philosopher, Pogo Possum, once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  • Mike Downing says:

    June 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm


    We do have one thing in common. We are both ENTJs. Other than that, we have fundamentally different views of the world.

    Your view appears to be only from the vantage point of our last Governor. My view is the last 38 years of DFL Majority in the Senate and a veto proof Senate some of the time.

    The MN state budget increased 17% on average over the last 38 years of DFL Majority in the Senate. Demographers new this was unsustainable but the MN DFL Majorities kept kicking the can down the road. This was bad enough but then the DFL House Majority and the DFL Senate Majority passed Bills in the 2009 Session that increased the MN state budget by 29%, yes 29%, in the next biennium. This was unconscionable!

    Perhaps this is why they were thrown out on 11/02/11 since anyone with common sense knew we could not afford such an increase.

    The real question is what growth rate in state spending can MN truly afford in order to compete in the short term and long term with other states? What growth rate in state spending can MN truly afford in order to compete in the short term and long term with other countries? The answer the majority of voters gave on 11/02/11 was 6% not 22% or 29%!

    Personally, I look forward to Governor Dayton’s shutdown. The vast majority of Minnesotans will hardly miss a beat developing, manufacturing and selling quality products & services.

  • David Culver says:

    June 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it ‘til the idea gains some traction. The state has already shut down for many of us: vets, students, small entrepreneurs, the sick, aged, indigent, homeless, gays, etc. So I propose we go long and deep on a shutdown: no one but prison guards can work until after Labor Day! Maybe the psychotic, greedy, stupid, narcissists and their protectors and enablers in the legislature will learn what is self-evident to the rest of us, namely (as Arianna Huffington puts it,

    “We have created a democracy that links us all, and with it come not only opportunities but obligations. There are no gates or walls high enough. There are no bank accounts large enough to buy you and your family and your friends protection from the fear and hunger of those left behind or to isolate you from the consequences of growing social inequities. We are all in this boat together. And the fact that there isn’t a hole at your end doesn’t mean you are safe.”

  • John Crampton says:

    June 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Here’s what the Republican budget is proposing—-deep cuts to state aid, a 6% cut to advocacy programs to abused children and minor parents, a 15% reduction in the state workforce, and a $48 million cut to special education, and an end to medical assistance to the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.

    Nothing makes a Republican stand taller or prouder than really whacking abused children, really sticking it to special ed students, really making it tougher to be a minor parent, or a state employee or a public school teacher.  All in the name of making sure that the 2% of the richest Minnesotans pay a much lower tax rate as the rest of us. 

    Let’s be perfectly clear about what this shutdown is about.  It is about the rich and their Republican legislative lap poodles—-They are the most vicious, despicable, greediest class of people who ever walked the earth!

  • Minnepopulist says:

    June 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    What waste of time the Comments are.  No original thoughts on either side and distorted facts. 

    I’m not an economist, but I know a 17% annual increase doubles the base value in about five years. If you’re going to cry “Wolf!” might as well not be a pup.

    State budgets should e based on need.  Only a dunce would say that K-12 aid should be constant dollars rather than dollars/pupil or that we should have the same number of prison cells no matter how many prisoners, ...

    The same Republicans who wanted more highways and got them don’t get it that more miles of highway lanes means more hours of snow removal and more miles of repairs and overlays.

    I also know that taxes are not as much of a damper on jobs and propsperity as poor schools, unmaintained or non-existant infrastructure, high utility costs, high energy costs, and inadequate health care.

  • Mike Downing says:

    June 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm


    It is clear that you are no economist nor have you learned that the MN state budget is for a two year period, i.e. “biennium”........ 

    An average increase of 17% per biennium equates to 8.5% increase per year which FAR exceeds population growth and inflation…....

    MN is no longer growing in population and inflation is around 2%; therefore, 6% growth in the state budget appears fair & equitable.

  • Joyce says:

    June 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    We need to see exactly what is proposed from the republicans in their budget and what is proposed by Gov Dayton. It would help to see the specifics of the proposals and actual expenditures. That being said, cutting services to the weakest, and most vulnerable is unconscionable. Is it easiest to stike out at those who have very little voice, or to further destroy the middle class? The past eight years of “no new taxes” have helped us get where we are today. Rising property taxes have eliminated any benefit to holding income taxes flat. Apparently there are legislators who feel their civic duty is to protect only the elite and wealthy of Minnesota. In order to balance the budget during the last legislative session (2010) Gov Pawlenty and the legislature kicked the can forward and stopped payments to healthcare providers for payments due in June 2011, into the next budget year, July 2011. These payments would be made in the first payment cycle of July.  With a government shut down looming providers will be expected to work even longer without payments. A shutdown will hurt everyone, as would the republican budget.

  • DLM says:

    June 29, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Interesting comments.  Of course Dayton is NOT up for re-election just yet.  Good luck to all those who are up for re-election when a huge number of their constituents try to buy lottery tickets during the shut down! Get the job done already!

  • KJC says:

    June 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Mike, that we have fundamentally different views of the world.
    Let’s test it out?
    Let’s say we’re both elected officials at the federal level.  The governing document is the Constitution, and it spells out our responsibilities.  It comes with the position.
    It starts with:  “We the People…”
    What I hear is?  It’s my job, my responsibility, to get results for every American citizen.  Period. 
    Why would I say that?  There are absolutely no qualifiers such as “some” of the people, or the “important” people, or the “hard driving” people, is there?  It is very clear, from the very first words, that it would be our job to deliver for everybody, even those that didn’t vote for us.
    And this is the nature of executive responsibility, you’re given your stakeholder groups… you don’t get to pick and choose them based on your own personal opinion.  Professionally, each day you true yourself up to the mission, not your personal likes and dislikes.
    So to be successful you have to deliver good results for all the stakeholder groups, even the ones you might not happen to like that much.
    Anything less is?  Failure.
    If you were to re-read the many posts you’ve made, what would be your own review as to this principle of delivering for ALL the stakeholders?  When I read them, you appear to suggest, over and over, that some stakeholders count, and that others can just be written-off (as far as you’re concerned) and that their interests don’t matter, indeed are an intrusion.  Do I need to repeat examples of your exact language that points to this?  Maybe you can explain it, but it sure looks to me that you persist in suggesting that some stakeholders are important, and then express disrespect and disdain for other stakeholders and their interests.   
    Stakeholder groups come with each and every job, you don’t get to pick them.  I consider them all to be my responsibility and… regardless of my personal opinion… that in the end, I need to get good results for all of them.
    I say that genuine success means exactly that: being responsible for the interests of all the stakeholders, not just those that I can most easily (personally) identify with.
    Now that is, as you would likely say, a Fundamentally Different View of the World. 

    P.S. If our elected officials at the Capitol took responsibility for good results for everyone, as is written in plenty of our state founding documents too, do you think the budget would get settled without a shutdown?  I do.

  • owen says:

    June 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Although differences of opinion exist, I am curious as to how many have actually seen the “balanced budget” and what it will do for (or maybe I should say to) Minnesota. I find it hard to believe that people we have elected to represent us are willing to sell Minnesota (Minnesotans) short.

  • LeRoy Carriere says:

    July 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    The Republicans like the idea of performance based pay for teachers and public employees . They should allow the voting public to judge their performance on negotiating a settlement. My vote would be no pay until you learn to negotiate as duly elected representatives instead of Tony Sutton lap dogs.